By Thomas Bernhard
Rather than the publication he’s intended to write down, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this darkish and grotesquely humorous account of small woes writ huge, of profound horrors specific and rehearsed to the purpose of distraction. We study of Rudolph’s sister, whose support he invitations, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his ‘really superb’ apartment, which he hates; the suspicious disorder he rigorously nurses; his ten-year-long try and write the proper commencing sentence; and, eventually, his get away to the island of Majorca, which seems to be the positioning of somebody else’s very genuine horror story.
A fabulous and haunting story of procrastination, failure, and melancholy, Concrete is an ideal instance of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as “one of the masters of up to date ecu fiction” (George Steiner).
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Extra resources for Concrete (Vintage International)
But we can’t escape vanity and the craving for fame. If necessary, we are prepared to yield to it with our heads held high, even though we know that we are acting in an unpardonable and perverse manner. And what about my work on Mendelssohn Bar-tholdy? I’m not going to write it just for my own satisfaction, after all, and then leave it lying around when it’s finished. Naturally I intend to publish it, whatever the consequences. For I actually believe that this work will be my most successful, or rather my least unsuccessful.
It was in Venice, curiously enough, that I’d found the most interesting documents relating to Mendelssohn Bartholdy. To ensure myself the best possible protection I had at once withdrawn to the Bauer-Griinwald, to a room which had a view of the church of San Marco across the red-tiled roofs, and studied these documents, which I had borrowed from the archbishop’s palace. In Turin I had found a number of Mendelssohn autographs on Carl Friedrich Zelter, and in Florence a whole pile of letters written to his Cecile.
She does her work, but I don’t give her any instructions, and sometimes I don’t even notice her before she’s gone again. Why did I in fact turn down my sister’s suggestion that I should go and stay with her in Vienna for a few weeks? I reacted brusquely as if to parry a malignant insult. What sort of person have I become since my parents died? I asked myself. I had sat down on the hall chair, and suddenly I felt frozen. The house wasn’t just empty, it was dead. It’s a morgue, I thought. But I can’t stand it at all if there are other people in it apart from myself.